Amazing, I thought. I had never seen so many crows in my entire life- every crow in California was there in Monterey! I panned the camera to get the footage, and guessed they had been spooked by all the fallen trees- it had been a hell of a rainstorm.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium was closed, so we swung the rented RV back out on the highway and headed to Santa Cruz, where a site waited for us at KOA. I tended a fire, trying to meditate my way out of a bad bou t with indigestion. It's not hard to guess why I was experiencing the great wall of China inside my esophagus; military spending in the trillions, Kucinich banned, American flags on people, products and police cars, a dying republic and impeachment a pipe-dream.
We stopped in at Berkeley to film the real troops defending our homeland, finding them perched high above the Berkeley campus in Oak Trees, slated for removal to make way for a Football stadium parking lot.
After a brief but emotional trip through Peoples Park (where I once lived), we headed off to San Francisco for the Great (Green) Debate of 2008!
Knowing San Francisco as I do, I headed there a day early, for parking purposes. A traffic jam of monumental proportions awaited us at the Bay Bridge. We creeped and creeped, until we saw the line of police cars parked at the apex of the enormous span. Eleven squad cars for a fender-bender, I thought? Then I saw her- a distraught youngish black woman -already over the railing- shaking her head in dispair, eyes on the frigid water far below. My heart sunk. And here I thought I had problems. 'Don't do it, girl', I said beneath my breath. The drama still unfolding, traffic dictated we push on.
We arrived near the Herbst Theater at an empty parking lot and took up two spaces with the 30' RV. On the wall above, a large sign proclaimed: THIS MAN IS AN IMPOSTER! and showed a photo of a balding black man. DO NOT PAY ANYONE BUT THE MACHINE! it continued. Nearby in a filthy doorway, slept this 'imposter'; destitute, cold, and, apparently, somewhat resourceful!
The Green Presidential Debate
Our dogs camping safely, we dressed and walked to the Herbst Theater. A security guard pointed us in the right direction and we entered at the stage door. At this point, it was an empty theater but for two hard-working soundstage engineers and we hit it off famously. I did all their sound checks and, within an hour, I had a front row press seat (from where I filmed the entire debate*) and had my new CD playing over the beautiful house system!
A countdown began, and every minute it was announced to those working how long until the doors would open to allow the public in. "Two minutes", came the call. "One minute".
All manor of Green (and the occasional undercover, I'm sure) splashed into the theater, rows filling and eventually spilling- a great turnout!
The event MC was a lovely and poised lady from a progressive media outlet, and she handled the occasional activist-outbursts by announcing, "That's why I love doing public events; you get, you know, the public". There were three such outbursts, mentioning impeachment, tree-sitters and a complaint about Naders speech running over his alloted time. The response of the green 'security' crew was to quietly reason with these modern day Paul Reveres. I was proud. We are quite evolved!
After short statements by distinguished Greens like San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, and a few words from Americas sweetheart Cindy Sheehan, the cadidates themselves were shown to their seats on stage.
From left-to-right, it was:
* Jesse Johnson, the candidate from West Virginia. Jesse had a powerful stage presence and along with Kent Mesplay was the most environmentally outspoken. His ideas were fresh, and he oozed leadership. His one area of weakness was his inability to break out of the issues of his region, where mountain-top coal removal is a destructive force. With more national experience, this is a future Green President.
* Kat Swift, Green Presidential Candidate from Texas:
Young, spirited and courageous, Kat seemed a bit overwhelmed by emotion at times. A dreadlocked former food-not-bombs volunteer, she represented hope for the future, with an ability unique among the candidates to reach out to the youngest Greens. Particularly interesting was her comment against divisiveness, warning of the dangers of "Rabid Veganism" among other things. As with all the candidates, the new Farm Bill was basically a mystery to her.
* Cynthia McKinney: The former Democratic Congresswoman from Georgia was easily the high point of the program when she recieved a sustained standing ovation after a spirited call for unity within the Green Party. Beautiful and well-spoken, this is an electable candidate in any race. Although lacking Ralph Naders complete mastery of the issues, she is an excellent example of the value of experience.
* Kent Mesplay:
Perhaps because of lessons learned growing up in Papua New Guinea, Kent displayed a very appealing environmental ethic. Scholarly and refined, Kent provoked a comment from Ralph Nader that he "doesn't even look like a green, and that's not a bad thing". Among the great work by organizers of this event, was the seating arrangement. Putting Mesplay next to Jared Ball was the perfect compliment for them and treat for us. Two men of solid substance, black, white, fire, ice, it was an excersize in texture. Kent Mesplay would make a fine President.
*Jared Ball: This firebrand from Washington DC is far and away the most dynamic of the candidates. With a mastery of black history to rival Malcom X and the motivational skills of Dr. King himself, Jared Ball is a force for change. He expressed his unabashed support of Cynthia McKinney, and his entourage of hip-hop artist 'Head-Roc' escorted her to and from her seat on stage like an adoring disciple. Count me among those disciples!
Jared made profound statements early and often, at one point politely correcting Kat Swift when she mentioned blacks had come to America 'as slaves'. Jared replied, "I respectfully correct my sister Kat that these people came not as slaves, but as a people enslaved".
Perhaps a Jared Ball presidency would ignite the smoldering rags of a new American revolution. To paraphrase Nader, "That might not be a bad thing"
Green Debate, epilogue~
That mornings newspaper held a small, but significant article, saying that San Francisco Police had contacted the family of the woman on the Bay Bridge. They arrived in time to save her. We cheered!
We drove off into the night, watching the lights on the dark highway fade toward the horizon, where their stellar counterparts rose up in their stead. I chose the brighest one and headed toward it.
Joey Racano, Director Ocean Outfall Group www.stopthewaiver.
My music: http://www.myspace.com/joeyracano
Member, California Green Party Delegate, 2008 Green National Convention Endorsements: California Green Party, 2002, Orange County Patrick Henry Democratic Club, 2004 Huntington Beach Mobile Home Owners Association, 2004 Former CDP State Central Committee Delegate, 2003-2006 Former Member- CDP Environmental Caucus Author- CDP 'Heritage Tree' State Resolution, 2003, La Jolla Marine Sanctuary Resolution, 2007
Tel and Fax: 805-772-2988 Cell: 805-540-8970 Address: P.O. Box 1260 Morro Bay, Ca 93443-1260 USA
The following text, written by fellow abolitionist Karin Hilpisch, is a very eloquent account of the problems with focusing on any issue other than veganism:
If there is anything to get things moving concerning speciesism, it is pointing out the bizarre division between animals who are institutionally used as companions and therefore granted a higher value in being kept alive than in being killed, and those whose value is realized in their being transformed into what is considered food as quickly as possible. A division which Gary Francione has defined as moral schizophrenia. The emotional surplus value that dogs and cats are accorded -- in the Western world -- causes them to be made objects of anitcruelty laws and protected from being used in ways which are regarded as illegitimate and morally reprehensible by the majority of society: dogfighting, for example.
What this form of animal exploitation has in common with bullfighting, hunting, fur-farming, circuses, and zoos, as well as with vivisection, is that it is practiced by relatively small groups in society, and that the number of animals affected amount to a fraction of those exploited by 99 percent of the population who consume meat, dairy, eggs.
Activism on behalf of animals that focuses on any issue other than food derived from animals IN GENERAL -- not on special prducts, supposedly produced more cruelly than others (foie gras, crated veal) -- serves political purposes (see Gary L. Francione. Introduction to Animal Rights, 2000: 163/164) and a collective psychological function that is inherent to speciesism: to give oneself an alibi, an indulgence for participating in the prevailing form of animal exploitation by diverting the attention to not generally accepted forms of it; to ease one's conscience about what is unjustifiable but pervasive by condemning, campaigning against, and banning what is not any more wrong but practiced by relatively few people. The latter stabilizes the former; by doing something "for the animals" -- who are not the subject matter of one’s own interests -- killing others by consuming their bodies and bodily secretions makes oneself feel much less uncomfortable.
Focusing on any issue other than food derived from animals helps to sustain moral schizophrenia -- the pschological basis of speciesism -- instead of challenging it; campaigning against animal fighting (as in the case of Michael Vick) is a meat eater's cause, furthered by vegans who engage in it -- who thereby become accomplices to the slaughterhouse.
The great butcher has himself been butchered.The timing is auspicious.These symbolic little “victories” in the otherwise bleak occupation of Iraq often seem to be timed for US consumption.If this one was, then it couldn’t have been a coincidence that it comes on the same long holiday weekend as the death of the 3,000th American soldier there.
And three thousand is not just a round number -- it’s just a bit bigger than the official death toll from the terrorist attacks on 9/11.
The 3,000 number itself was already auspicious in the days after September 11th, 2001.It was on another September 11th twenty-eight years before that a US-sponsored neofascist coup in Chile quickly resulted in a similar number of deaths.Thousands of supporters of democracy and egalitarianism who had elected Salvador Allende to power three years earlier were systematically murdered.Like so many other US government interventions in the affairs of other nations, this one led to decades of dictatorship.One more US-sponsored regime kept in power by torture, executions and systematic election theft.
Like Pinochet, Saddam was, for decades, our guy in the Middle East, along with the Shah of Iran and others.Saddam was one of the world’s most enthusiastic torturers and executioners of Islamists.Even GW admits he had nothing to do with 9/11.But now Iraq has lots of radical Islamists and all kinds of other folks attracted to the idea of defending an Arab country from bloodthirsty American invaders.So now the “war on terror” can go on in Iraq, too.
The US had the receipts for the chemical weapons they sold to Saddam in the 1980’s, and they ignored the reliable information they had from both Iraqi defectors and UN inspectors that all the WMD’s were long gone by the early 1990’s.Instead, they knowingly used this phony search for wepaons of mass destruction as an excuse to impose a more compliant regime on yet another country.
In the 1980’s a scientist from Texas was running a &ldquoharmaceutical” plant in western Iraq for Saddam.Meanwhile, thousands of Iranians and Kurds at a time were being killed in the course of dozens of massive-scale human slaughters carried out with chemical weapons.And, as usual when dictators we like were carrying out atrocities of staggering proportions, the military aid and political support from Washington continued unabated.As long as the main victims of Saddam’s regime were his own people and the citizens of the new Islamic government in neighboring Iran, it was all good.
Following a long-standing tradition in US foreign policy, Saddam attacked Iran in a gigantic, unprovoked assault.Over the course of the eight-year war, over a million Iranians were killed, many of them by poison gas.“Saddam’s martyrs,” the hapless young Iraqi draftees and others who died in the course of this senseless slaughter, are thought to number about 700,000.
It’s another interesting number to attempt to comprehend in some way.Since the most recent 2003 invasion, according to Britain’s Lancet Medical Journal, the toll by violent death in Iraq could be as high as 700,000 by now.
The job of torturing the Iraqi people has for years now been done by the US, in the same Abu Ghraib prison that Saddam used as his chief torture facility.And now the job of slaughtering hundreds of thousands of Iraqis has also been passed on from Saddam to his American executioners.
Among other things the Iraq Study Group has recommended, widely ignored by the so-called “mainstream” media, is the total privatization of the Iraqi economy, starting with it’s oil.So the job of profitting from Iraq’s vast oil wealth has also been passed on violently from Saddam and his cronies to the US and it’s corporations -- although unlike the current government, at least Saddam used part of that wealth to provide most Iraqis with universal health care and education.
And those people in Iraq trying to put an end to this nightmare by once again forcing an English-speaking army out of their land?Terrorists, of course.
Just like the Vietnamese.In some hotel room a year or two ago I was watching a documentary on Fox television.It was about the Battle of Hue in 1968.The Vietnamese partisans had taken the city from the US occupation forces.The US military eventually re-took the city from them.The Fox documentary was full of outrageous claims about the bravery of the US Marines and the spinelessness of the enemy, how every time a Vietnamese came face to face with a US soldier they ran.
There were stories of courageous “house-to-house” fighting, and no efforts were made to try to familiarize the viewer with any information about how guerrilla fighting is generally conducted.Normally, when you are facing a vastly more powerful military force, no sensible guerrilla force engages in combat that might be described as “stand and fight” for very long.At the end of the documentary, the only honest piece of information in the whole thing was mentioned in passing:By the end of the Battle of Hue, 80% of the city lay in ruins.
Facing such a fearful, spineless resistance it was once again necessary to destroy the city in order to win it back?
And as in Vietnam, the ever-growing resistance in Iraq is a shadowy affair, and is supposedly full of people from other countries and “Baathist remnants.”In Vietnam it was the Russians.In Iraq it’s the international terrorists.Reality be damned, that’s our story and by golly we’re sticking to it.And never mind the fact that the terrorists who came from all over the Muslim world to take Afghanistan back from the Russians did so with billions of American dollars, funded through the regimes that are still in power in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan – during the very same decade (the 1980’s) that the US was supporting Saddam’s war against other Islamists who we didn’t like!
A woman I know was telling me about her lover.I’ll call him Ghassan.Ghassan was a young man full of vitality, with great hopes for the future.He was educated as an engineer in an ivy league university in the west and spoke fluent English.He despised Saddam as well as Islamic fundamentalism.Like so many others throughout the Middle East, he was a secular, leftwing pan-Arabist.
And like most Arabs – unlike most people in the west – Ghassan knew of the double-standards of the invaders.He knew that despite the rhetoric, the US had always supported dictatorships of all kinds, and opposed movements for self-determination.He knew that the US had overthrown democratically-elected governments that had their people’s welfare in mind, and replaced them with torture-happy dictatorships that looked out for US corporate interests as they slaughtered their people.
Ghassan was a person of conscience.He met a little girl in Basra who had been orphaned by the Americans, and he adopted her as his own.And when his people were being massacred, he came to their defense.
My friend got an anonymous phone call one day.The man on the line said Ghassan had joined the resistance in Falluja.The building he had been in was completely demolished.Fighters were on the second floor.On the first floor was his adopted daughter from Basra, and other women and children.Everyone in the building was killed.The man on the phone said that Ghassan died looking the crusaders in the eye.
If the Ghassans of the world are the terrorists we are trying to wipe out, then, as the bumper sticker goes, we are surely creating enemies far faster than we can kill them.
In the once-beautiful City of Mosques, the resistance had only small arms against the airborne might of the world’s largest military.The US employed helicopters that fired chemical weapons, and helicopters that fired hundreds of rounds of armor-piercing bullets per second.Yet in order to re-take Falluja from the resistance in 2004, the fighting was so fierce that by the time the guerrillas were killed or driven out, about 80% of the city was turned to rubble.
Hundreds of thousands of refugees from Falluja and elsewhere in Iraq continue to flood into Jordan and other countries, wherever they can go.Construction in Amman was certainly booming when I visited there last year.And these are the lucky ones who have managed to survive thus far, and have the means to move somewhere else.If you talk with the survivors you can start to get some idea of how the respected Lancet Medical Journal arrived at the estimates of the numbers of those who have died violent deaths in the past several years of this most recent nightmare for the people of Iraq.
Perhaps I’m being too moralistic.Perhaps we really need the oil that lies beneath their sand.Perhaps all of this is in “our national interest.”Perhaps.As long as it is also in our national interest to support despots, to jail and kill democrats.As long as it is also in our national interest to maintain a state of desperate poverty among the masses of people around the world.As long as it is also in our national interest to be hated or at least mistrusted by 98% of the world’s population.As long as it is in our interest to be in a perpetual state of war, and to be directly responsible for the ceaseless slaughter of millions upon millions of good people on every continent aside from Antarctica.
I wake up in the morning, read the paper and once again I feel like I’m living in a bubble, watching heavily-armed men arm themselves some more, form alliances, make enemies, torture and kill them, then make some more enemies, arming themselves some more in the process, all to determine who gets to drive the car that is spewing it’s exhaust into our little bubble.This is how the world looks when ExxonMobil and Halliburton are determining your foreign and domestic policies.In a word, insane.
But Saddam is dead.One mass murderer is down.How many more to go?
What is the common ideology between mathematician and philosopher Pythagoras, peace activist Mahatma Gandhi, Albert Einstein, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and many others? Your answer may be that they are all vegetarians, but in fact, they all believed speciesism is immoral. Accordingly, one might ask: what is speciesism?
Speciesism, coined by British psychologist Richard D. Ryder in 1970, is defined as assigning different values or rights to beings on the basis of their species. (Speciesism Wikipedia) Speciesists state that different species of animals significantly differ from each other and therefore some should have a lower status than others. This, in turn, would mean that the species from a lower status can be used, in any form, by species from a higher one. (BBC Religion and Ethics – Speciesism) On the other hand, Anti-speciesists claim that a difference of species cannot be used to determine the status of an individual (Singer 7).
The objections of speciesism are largely based on the famous, yet controversial, contemporary philosopher Dr. Peter Singer, who currently works as both the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University and laureate Professor at the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics. Named as Time Magazine's list of 100 of the world's most influential people in 2005 (Princeton University), his widely known book “Animal Liberation” is often referred to as the touchstone of the modern day animal rights movement. In his book, Dr. Singer argues that the interests of all beings capable of suffering are to be worthy of equal consideration.
Dr. Singer draws the line between beings worthy of equal consideration and those that are not by the ability to suffer because “ the capacity for suffering and enjoyment is a prerequisite for having interests at all.” (8) As an example, he says that it would not make sense to give a stone interests because even if it were to be kicked, it would not suffer. However, if the being, such as a mouse or a human, will suffer from the kick, then there is no “moral justification for refusing to take that suffering into consideration.” (Singer 8) To mark this division line with any other characteristics, like intelligence or rationalily, would be arbitrary, due to the characteristics’ irrelevance to the criteria of having interests.
Furthermore, Dr. Singer claims that giving equal rights to all living beings is impractical; instead, we should give equal consideration to different individuals. Although equal consideration may lead to different treatment and different rights, these interests will be appropriate to each individual. For example, giving voting rights to a dog will be meaningless, for a dog will not be able to understand the significance of voting. (Singer 2) This example also applies to human infants and adults with severe brain damage who, according to Dr. Singer’s theory, should have the same voting rights as the dog. From the above, one can see that the principle of equal consideration is not a speciesist view, for it evalutes each individual’s ability, not the general ability of the whole species, and assigns rights respectively.
It should be noted that Dr. Singer believes speciesism is very similar to racism and sexism: they all choose an arbiturary characteristic and divide those with and without that particular trait as superior or inferior to the other. Also, in all cases, the self proclaimed “superior” group exerts control, and often abuses, the “inferior” group, for they feel they are rightful in using the “inferiors” as a mean to their ends.
Marjorie Spiegel, author of “The Dreaded Comparison – Human and Animal Slavery,” commented on the similarities, which mainly consists of oppression in language, slave-master relationships, and the oppressors claiming that it is for the good of the whole that slaves should be oppressed, between speciesism now and racism directed at the African American population before. In both cases, oppression in language takes the form of connotations of words. The enslaved or domesticated “inferiors” are “good,” while the free and wild are “beastly” and savage-like. (35–38) In addtion, slave-master relationships are formed where the slaves are punished, branded, restrained by bondage, used in harmful experiments… and generally treated without consideration. (Spiegel 39-44) Surprisingly, one supporter of black slavery is quoted saying “Negroes…are void of sensibility to a surprising degree…and what would be the cause of unsupportable pain to a white man, a Negro would almost disregard.” (Mosely qtd. in Spiegel 65) Isn’t this the exact same agruement used by the supporters of speciesism? Finally, the “masters” declare that without them to control the “slaves,” society would turn into a chaotic place. An extract from an essay in 1851 stated “The Negro if left to himself will not work…[if slavery were abolished] the free white operative would be compelled to pay all the expenses necessary to support this idle, drunken, lazy population.” (Campbell qtd. in Spiegel 44) As with racism a hundred years ago, humans, being the “master,” only look at our relationship with nonhuman animals in modern society from our perspective, and forget to consider the whole picture.
Speciesism, as with racism and sexism, is a problem that relates to every single human in almost every society in the present day world. It is embedded in our language, in our culture, and mostly importantly, in the “neccessities” of everyday life. Whether it is the meat that we eat, the cosmetics that we use, or the medicine that we take, there might be some form of animal rights violation, whether it is intensive factory farming or animal experimentation and testing, associated in the process of production. Even if one is particularly attentive to not act, think, or consume in any way speciesist, it is still almost impossible to prevent all forms of speciesism. Therefore we must cause a change in our orthodox ways collectively; we must consciously think about all forms of oppression in our daily life and do our best to eradicate them. Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Elie Wiesel once said, "take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented." Are you willing to help abolish all forms of discrimination?
Works Cited “Religion and Ethics – Speciesism.” BBC. Oct. 15, 2006.
Singer, Peter. Animal Liberation. New York: Avon Books, 1975
Two Hickman County (Tennessee) teens are facing charges for shooting 24 cows, 11 of them unborn, and the cattle owner is out thousands of dollars.
“They just wanted to see what shooting cattle was like. That's basically all you can say," said Hickman County Sheriff Randal Ward.
Ward said the explanation won't justify what they did, but that is the only explanation they’ve given.
The cattle were killed on the Bon Aqua farm of Randall Tidwell. Police say two juvenile boys, 14 and 16 years-old went hunting then trespassed onto the farmer's property. Tidwell found some of his cattle dead while checking his pasture the following day.
"Eleven of the cows were all pregnant and were expecting calves, which was part of the 24 that were dead, and two of them were calves," said Ward.
All of the animals were killed by gunshots. Some were shot twice or three times in the side.
"They died a slow death you could say, within a 24-hour period or longer. So after the ones that he initially found several more died later on from the gunshot wounds," Ward explained.
The owner estimates his loss at $25,000 to $30,000. That doesn't include the value of calves the 11 cows were expected to produce during the next eight years.
”Insurance is not going to be able to cover this. This is a total loss to him. He's lost some cattle plus future cattle that he would have from calves," said Ward.
This incident also potentially poses a bigger concern for the county sheriff.
"Were seeing a great amount of violence among juveniles using weapons, guns, knives or anything they have of real destruction," said Ward.
The sheriff said in this case, a 300 magnum and a 22-caliber rifle were used. Both guns belonged to family members.
It was a family member that notified the sheriff of who was responsible for the cattle shootings. Both juveniles are from Hickman County. The 14 year-old is currently in DCS custody, after escaping twice from state officials after his arrest.
He's also a great-nephew of Mr. Tidwell, but the two are said to have had no relationship.
Each is cited for criminal trespassing and the intentional killing of an animal. They both face a hearing date next month.
“Speciesism is destined to become the definitive statement of the abolitionist animal rights position, not only in philosophy but also for the law and for conducting animal rights advocacy. With uncompromising clarity and abundant, up-to-date evidence, Joan Dunayer details the logical conclusions of the basic animal rights proposition that all that is required for moral rights is the ability to suffer. Her keen ear for speciesist language and her sharp eye for logical inconsistency provide a wealth of information, insights, and thought provocation even for those who have been active in the animal rights movement for decades, and her criticisms of the hierarchical variety of speciesism still found in the writings of some of the best-known advocates of animal rights will provide a constructive focus for lively discussion both within and beyond that movement.”—Steve F. Sapontzis, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, California State University, Hayward and author of Morals, Reason, and Animals
“With sound science and reason, this book brilliantly expands on the limited views of many animal rights philosophers.”—Dr. Michael W. Fox, author of The Boundless Circle
“Joan Dunayer thoroughly exposes and discredits the ideas and laws that have legitimated and sustained the oppression of other animals. Using gripping examples, and showing an impressive command of the scientific literature, she has produced an uncompromising call for true justice. This thoughtful and carefully written book is a significant contribution to contemporary animal rights literature.”—David Nibert, Professor of Sociology, Wittenberg University and author of Animal Rights/Human Rights
“In this unique and impressive book, Joan Dunayer forcefully develops the most rigorous and consistent definition of speciesism ever offered. She also advances, in significant ways, the case for regarding sentience as the only criterion for possessing basic rights.”—Michael A. Fox, Professor of Philosophy, Queen’s University and author of Deep Vegetarianism
Defining speciesism as “a failure, in attitude or practice, to accord any nonhuman being equal consideration and respect,” this brilliant work critiques speciesism both outside and inside the animal rights movement. Much moral philosophy, legal theory, and animal advocacy aimed at advancing nonhuman emancipation actually perpetuate speciesism, the book demonstrates. Speciesism examines philosophy, law, and activism in terms of three categories: “old speciesism,” “new speciesism,” and species equality.
Old-speciesists limit rights to humans. Speciesism refutes their standard arguments against nonhuman rights. Current law is old-speciesist; legally, nonhumans have no rights. “Animal laws” such as the Humane Slaughter Act afford nonhumans no meaningful protection, Dunayer shows. She also explains why welfarist campaigns are old-speciesist. Instead of opposing the abuse or killing of nonhuman beings, such campaigns seek only to make abuse or killing less cruel; they propose alternative ways of violating nonhumans’ moral rights. Many organizations that consider themselves animal rights engage in old-speciesist campaigns, which reinforce the property status of nonhumans rather than promote their emancipation.
New-speciesists espouse rights for only some nonhumans, those whose minds seem most like humans’. In addition to devaluing most animals, new-speciesists give greater moral consideration and stronger basic rights to humans than to any nonhumans. They see animalkind as a hierarchy with humans at the top. Dunayer explains why she categorizes such theorists as Peter Singer, Tom Regan, and Steven Wise as new-speciesists.
Nonspeciesists advocate rights for every sentient being. Speciesism makes the case that every creature with a nervous system should be regarded as sentient. The book provides compelling evidence of consciousness in animals often dismissed as insentient—such as fishes, insects, spiders, and snails. Dunayer argues that every sentient being should possess basic legal rights, including rights to life and liberty. Radically egalitarian, Speciesism envisions nonspeciesist thought, law, and action.
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